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Entertainment & Nightlife in Beijing


In comparison to Shanghai, Beijing's nightlife is not so high octane. Still, because of the city's huge population and the government's liberalisation, many places rock till the early hours. The non-alcoholic beverage of choice is still tea but with no less than 45 branches of Starbucks in Beijing the café scene is one to be reckoned with. The ubiquitous (at least in Asia) karaoke scene is alive and well.

The Sanlitun area is still a pretty busy nightlife centre, despite Beijing's determination to tear everything down and build anew. Small bars dot the neighbourhood – some so small that capacity is 10 punters. Opposite the Workers' Stadium is a gaggle of bars and clubs but the Sanlitun southern part has succumbed to the wrecking ball. Sanlitun Central seems to be dominated by shopping malls but if you look closer opposite the Great Dragon Hotel you'll find some of the most popular bars and discos in Beijing.

Places to Unwind

Performing Arts

Beijing has played host to various international dance troupes such as the Joffrey Ballet. The Central Ballet is the premier ballet company of China and gives annual performances of Western classics such as Swan Lake. Venues for these performances include the Poly Plaza International Theatre and the brand new National Centre for the Performing Arts.

Classical music concerts are held at various locations in Beijing. The most impressive auditorium is the Beijing Concert Hall which seats up to 1,000 people. The upscale Century Theater is another major venue for a classical music fix. Various hotels across the city, such as the Palace Hotel and Jianguo Hotel also host soothing musical performances. For a taste of local culture, try the San Wei Bookstore and enjoy traditional Chinese music played with such instruments as the erhu and pipa. Cultural complex Imperial Granary has transformed a district of ancient buildings into concert and theater space that is often used for small non-traditional music and performance art.

Characterised by vivid costuming, face make-up and a vocal pitch akin to caterwauling, this traditional form of performance art dates back to the 16th century. Beijing Opera proves extremely popular with tourists and is performed in various tea houses and theatres such as Lao She Tea House and Liyuan Theatre.

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